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Dan Jacobson,
Environment California

Quick Updates and Analysis on Energy/Climate Bills – Plus Upcoming Decisions

For Immediate Release

What Got Done:

1. 2016 saw the passage of SB 32 (Pavley) and AB 197 (E. Garcia), historic bills that will keep California on pace to reduce global warming pollution and to help stave off the worst impacts of climate change. California can continue to serve as an example to the rest of the world on how to take concrete steps to bring down global warming pollution, improve public health and reduce pollution in overburdened communities, all while creating clean energy jobs and investments.

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2. SB 1383 (Lara), a bill to combat super pollutants. The bill reduces super pollutants by increasing  recycling and composting, but more is needed to help people living near the largest dairies in the state.

3. Thanks to AB 1613 (budget bill), $363 million has been allocated to continue funding some of the state’s successful low-carbon transportation programs, including critical programs that are improving access to electric cars in low and moderate-income communities and programs that are funding electric trucks and buses—technology that benefits disadvantaged communities as they are most likely to be located near highly polluted freight hubs or heavily-traveled freeways. While the $363 million allocation is an important immediate investment, it is short of the amount needed to fully implement and expand these programs. Additional funding will be needed over the next few years in order for California to meet the air quality, equity, climate and zero-emission vehicle goals set forth by the legislature and the Governor.

What Did Not Get Done:

1. Solar Energy:  Special interests halted opportunities to expand distributed solar power, both photovoltaic and solar hot water.

  • AB 2339 (Irwin/Low) would have guaranteed access to rooftop solar for the over 5 million customers of the state’s forty-plus publicly owned utilities by protecting net metering in those territories, allowing customers with solar panels to receive fair retail credit for the excess electricity they send back to the grid. With a number of municipal utilities debating the future of net metering in their territories, it is critical for California’s elected official to display strong leadership on solar energy moving forward in order to keep this bright spot in our economy growing strong.
  • AB 2460 (Irwin) would have extended the state’s critical solar hot water rebate program, targeting significant resources for solar thermal projects in low-income housing. This bill would have not only promoted the continued growth of solar thermal and related job development in communities across the state, it would also have aided California’s goals of reducing natural gas use, the importance of which was demonstrated clearly with the Aliso Canyon natural gas leak that released an estimated 100,000 tons of methane, equivalent to approximately 8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into our air. Next year the legislature will need to come back and re-double efforts to make distributed solar energy accessible to more Californians.

2. Keep it in the Ground: Once again the legislature was unable to overcome the power of the oil and gas industry. Legislation to keep oil in the ground was not seriously considered this year.

Next few weeks:

1. The Governor will need to sign key legislation, including SB 32, AB 197 and SB 1383. This is expected to happen during the month of September.

2. On September 16th, the Los Angeles City Council will be voting on a motion (16-0243, Krekorian) that would direct the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power to work with research partners to determine what investments should be made to achieve 100 percent renewable energy portfolio for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Given that Los Angeles is a leader not only here in California, but on the national and global stage, determining how the city will make the transition to 100 percent renewables will not only protect our communities and environment, but will send a strong signal to cities everywhere that a 100 percent renewable future is within reach.

3. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear challenges to the Clean Power Plan this fall. Assuming the courts confirm the EPA’s authority to enforce the CPP, other states will look to California for an example on how to implement the plan, making it all the more important for California to continue setting high bars and leading the way.

Photos from top to bottom: Legislative Director Dan Jacobson testifying in support of AB 197; LA City Councilmember Paul Krekorian and our Los Angeles canvass office showing support for the 100% renewable energy motion.